“It was a sad day for Coast Community Concerts,” Ray Egers said of the death of his friend Emily Germanis. “We’re going to miss her.”
Emily Ann Germanis, 74, died Aug. 31 at her home in Biloxi. Services were Sept. 10. She is survived by her sister, Marcella Covacevich, her brother-in-law, Edward Covacevich, and several nieces and nephews.
Egers first met Germanis in kindergarten. “In sixth grade, I went to Notre Dame, and she went to Sacred Heart,” he said. “After that I went into the Army, and I came back five years later. We had our five-year reunion for the Sacred Heart and Notre Dame class of 1960, and we worked together on reunions for years after that.”
Shrimp Queen of 1960
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Germanis was named Shrimp Queen for the 1960 Shrimp Festival in Biloxi.
“She was very elegant in 1960,” Egers recalled. “She looked and dressed like a model. Very refined, very intelligent, with style and her language. She had a beautiful speaking voice.”
She was a graduate of Gulf Park College for Women. In 1966, Germanis began working as a reporter for the Daily Herald, one of the predecessors of the Sun Herald. In 1975, she was named Today’s Living editor for the South Mississippi Sun, another predecessor. At both papers, which later merged to form the Sun Herald, she won several awards for her writing.
She also wrote wedding announcements, Egers said. “She wrote announcements for a whole lot of brides,” he said. “I’ll bet you she wrote obituaries for a lot of friends and acquaintances, too.”
Her career with the newspapers spanned 10 years.
Germanis is best known to the Coast for her involvement with the Coast Community Concert Association. In a 1986 interview, she said it was while she lived in Hattiesburg working as print media manager in the public relations department at the University of Southern Mississippi, “that I really nourished my interest in the arts. I made many friends in the music and theater departments, and I got involved with the Hattiesburg Little Theatre.”
Promoter of the arts
When she returned to the Coast, her enthusiasm for the arts came with her. She became especially involved with Coast Community Concerts “going back to when we had it at Biloxi High School,” Egers said. “She took care of everything.”
That continued up to recently, he said.
“She was the oldest person around who knows all the jobs and functions, everything that needed to be done,” he said. “She did a lot of it.”
That included arranging the talent for upcoming seasons, said friend Eleanor Rogers. “We would go to Nashville for Matt Davenport’s Live on Stage showcase that he has once a year.”
Germanis and Rogers would go to hear performers at the showcase and select those they felt would appeal to Coast audiences.
“We did it for five years,” said Rogers, who was a theatrical agent in California. “We knew each other for 30 years. She was the first person I met here when we moved here from Palm Beach, Florida.”
Germanis especially enjoyed Coast Community Concert performances by the Vienna Boys’ Choir and Roslyn Kind, the half-sister of Barbra Streisand, Egers said.
“She was very focused on the arts, and she was a very happy person,” she said. “She adored her family. And she had the ability to make everyone feel good about themselves. She was very complimentary.”
Germanis, Egers said, also could cut to the chase.
“She told people the way she felt,” he said. “I would tell people you could not take her for the verbiage because she didn’t mean it. Two weeks later she would forget whatever she had said. I think she just had so much in that mind of hers. She knew every play and the ones she liked. That’s what she loved, the arts.”
CCCA board member and president emeritus Herb Carnathan has fond memories of Germanis’ writing skills.
“In the early 1970s another Rotarian and I were tasked to write an article on the speaker’s program. We would come home and write an article and take it to the Sun Herald for publication. One day Emily asked what we did, and we explained our Rotary job. She said, ‘Call me, go over your notes and I will write for you.’ Well, she did and the quality of our Rotary articles improved greatly.
“Some years I found she was working for the Coast Community Association as a writer, and the quality of her writing was superb. In the past four to five years she took on the jobs of several other officers, and virtually ran the Association.
“The Association lost a valuable member, and I lost a great friend,” Carnathan said.